The sale of Christchurch-based GPS company Navman to US giant Brunswick is being heralded as "terrific news" for New Zealand in general by the Marine Export Group (MAREX), an association that promotes New Zealand companies overseas.
Spokesman Lane Finlay says the sale of 70% of Navman for over $NZ56 million announced yesterday (see Navman sold for $56 million) will open doors for New Zealand development companies in the future.
"It's terrific for New Zealand because Brunswick is recognising New Zealand as a low-cost place to develop technologies. Think of what that can do if that word spreads. If Brunswick is successful other companies will come down here looking for these hotbeds of innovation."
Finlay says one of the biggest problems for many New Zealand companies is finding capital to expand and having the resources of a $1.3 billion corporation at its disposal will allow Navman to grow beyond its current limits.
"[It] can access new markets and new technologies and use New Zealand to develop those. I think it's a gateway for New Zealand into more of this kind of deal."
Navman will retain its local operation, currently split between Auckland and Christchurch, and plans to expand in the year ahead - doubling its manufacturing capability and increasing its staffing levels by 25%. Navman employs about 350 people.
Navman isn't the first Kiwi IT company to make such a splash on the international scene - in December Marshal Software was purchased by US-based NetIQ for $NZ45.8 million. NetIQ has retained the old Marshal team in Auckland for the time being.
In 1998 software developer Murray Haszard sold his disk-cloning solution Ghost to Symantec for $US27.5 million. However since then Haszard and Symantec have gone their separate ways.
Ghost wasn’t Haszard’s first success on the software development front. In 1993 he was looking for a software publisher to pick up his Beam data transfer package and eventually sold Beam for just under $US1 million.
In 1996 PC Direct founders Maurice Bryham and Sharon Hunter sold control of the local assembler to US Office Products for around $30 million. Office Products sold the local PC manufacturer to Gateway in 1998. Gateway exited the New Zealand market not long after.